«HACKENSACK - HERITAGE TO HORIZONS PUBLISHED BY: THE HACKENSACK BICENTENNIAL COMMITTEE TERRY LARK, EDITOR DR. IRWIN TALBOT, PHD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR ...»
According to Miss Ethel Hoyt, longtime City Clerk who was associated with the local government since 1911, the Commission's few appointments were much sought after. The caretaker of the town clock in the Johnson Free Public Library was paid $12.50 per annum. The same salary went to the person designated to see that horse watering troughs along Main Street were kept filled. Among the first known municipal buildings was a rented home at 303 Main Street, where the town's records were kept until 1913, when the seat of government moved to the old firehouse at 346 State Street. The relocation resulted from the commission's refusal to pay $50, an increase of $5 per month, for the rented quarters.
The City's form of government was changed by referendum vote on May 23, 1933, to the Municipal Manager Plan. This called for the appointment of a professional manager, and a fiveman Council elected at large, with the top vote-getter being traditionally named Mayor. The first new Council was elected June 20, 1933, and too, office the following July,.18. The first Mayor was Robert A. Altschuler. On January 3, 1935, the City Council by resolution adopted the portrayal of the head of Indian Chief Oratam as the official seal of the City of Hackensack.
The former North Jersey Title Company headquarters was acquired, with furnishings, by the City the following year in lieu' of delinquent taxes amounting to $88,000. At the time there was not the annex which is now the present police headquarters. The seat of government has been located at 65 Central Avenue since the formal dedication of May 18, 1936.
Our town...Police Department
The early history of the Hackensack Police Department is not known, there being no records available prior to 1900. The beginnings of the Department are here related by retired Sergeant Herman Barr (deceased) and through the assistance of Ms. Mary Otchy of the Johnson Free Public Library Staff, the late Mrs. Josephine Coogan, City Clerk of Hackensack, and the Library Staff of The Record.
The Hackensack Police Department came into being on February 21, 1888, when the Hackensack Improvement Commission introduced "An Act to Provide for the Establishment of a Police Force". An actual "Ordinance to Establish and Regulate a Police Department in the Village of Hackensack" was not adopted until Augusts, 1900.
The beginnings of the Police Department as related by Sergeant Barr were spartan. The early law officers, two in number, "Bucky" Banta and George Earle, shared the enforcement responsibilities of the Village. They worked for $50 per month with no days off. They supplied their own uniforms, guns, equipment and other necessary items. The two men operated out of borrowed space in the Fire House at 24 Mercer Street.
The patrol function was a simple matter, if one of the officers took the area north of the Susquehanna Railroad tracks, the other took the area south. It is not known how the selection of the area was made or if the selection was made by tossing a coin. These men were the bastions of law and order in the Village until 1896, when George Earle retired and "Bucky" Banta died.
About this time, Cornelius Van Blarcom, Michael Breen, Martin O'Shea and Albert Rick were appointed to the Police Department. Two years later, Sergeant Barr was appointed. According to the record furnished by Sergeant Barr before his death, there still was no Chief of Police, but Cornelius Van Blarcom was in charge and shared the patrol duties. The work load of the Department also increased about this time, the Village then having four patrol posts instead of only two, although equipment was still lacking. Sergeant Barr remembered that the police officers used wheelbarrows, stone bosts or any other conveyance they could borrow or commandeer to bring drunks and any other persons under arrest to the Police Station. Persons arrested could not be held as there was no facility for keeping prisoners.
According to Sergeant Barr, a short time later, a man whose first name he could not recall, but whose last name was Schrieber and who worked for R.C Macy Company as a teamster was appointed as Sergeant and placed in charge of the Department. Barr's recollection is that Schrieber served only one year as head of the Department, but during his leadership the force was increased with the appointments of Charles Graber and Thomas Smith.
When Sergeant Schrieber left the Department, Irving Waltermire (or Waltermeyer both spellings appear in the old records) was appointed in charge and became the first Chief of Police. Chief Waltermeyer moved police headquarters to the basement of the Union League Club at the corner of Main and Morris Streets at the Green. About 1905 Jacob Dunn became Waltermeyer's successor as Chief of Police and police headquarters was again moved, this time to what is now the Garden State National Bank at Main and Mercer Streets, this move occurring about 1908.
Again during the tenure of Chief Dunn, the police headquarters was moved this time to Ricardo's Warehouse at what is now approximately 19 Mercer Street. This was an advantageous move for the Police Department, as now horses could be borrowed if the need to use the Patrol Wagon arose. The Police Department stayed at Ricardo's Warehouse until 1918, when it was moved across the street where it originally started in the Fire House at 24 Mercer Street. Now, however, it was officially the police headquarters and facilities for the functions of the Police Department were installed. Here the Police Department made its home and continued to grow until 40 years later in 1958 it moved into the new modern headquarters at 225 State Street.
In 88 years of law enforcement in the City of Hackensack, the Department expanded from two ill-equipped, untrained constables into the new 107-man computer assisted, modernly equipped and technically trained law enforcement agency. The present Chief, Anthony Iurato, is assisted in upholding the law by six divisions in the Police Department: Detective, Youth, Narcotics, Traffic, Criminal Identification and Patrol.
On December 15, 1914, the Hackensack Improvement Commission (then governing body) passed an ordinance and created the first full paid and part-paid Fire Department to succeed the volunteer department which was disbanded the same night. William Ziegler, the last volunteer chief, was appropriately named chief of the new paid department at a salary of $1,500 per year.
Fire headquarters was located then on Mercer Street in the building which X formerly housed the Alert Hose Company No. 1 and the Fire Patrol. The four men who were part of this original paid Fire Department were Joseph Mercier, William Bahlburg, Michael Wygant (the captain) and William Henery Jackson who later on was quoted often as he reminisced about those early days.
The men worked 11 days straight and then had 24 hours off. They only left the fire house three times a day to have their meals. They slept upstairs in the Mercer Street building and when they went home on that twelfth day they were still subject to call. One wonders how four men could handle fires in Hackensack and how often.
South Hackensack, Bogota, Maywood, Rochelle Park, Paramus and what was then Arcola.
According to Mr. Jackson, "There's just one explanation. The volunteers. Those hardworking men who were with us all the way. They'd come through when we needed them most, following up the alarms no matter where they were when the whistles started.
Although the paid Department boasts of having the only motor driven fire-fighting equipment in Bergen County in 1911, horse-drawn equipment was still located throughout Hackensack for the use of the volunteers. As Jackson recalled, "Here was the Union Hose Company in the Fairmount section and the Hudson Hose Company down on Hudson Street. Then we had Liberty Steamer Company on State Street near Passaic Street. They had a steam engine and hook and ladder truck.- The Morris Street building housed the protection steamer. And last but not least, Bergen Hook and Ladder truck...We had our problems in those days. Hackensack had low water pressure. If a fire required the use of three or four lines that's when the steamers came in Hydrants were few and far between so the steamers and pumpers used any available source of water - wells, brooks and rivers."
Mr. Jackson explained that the Patrol Company in the Mercer Street building had a horse-drawn wagon used to carry tarpaulins and lanterns- the tarpaulins to cover valuable furniture and the lanterns to help at night fires.
Although there were electric lights in use then, they were not plentiful and it really was handy to have oil lanterns and the old-fashioned carbon arc lamps, The Company also took care of salvage work and keeping order at fires.
There were two ways to report a fire in the 1900s - telephone and the call boxes located throughout the city. When an alarm came through a call box it rang the bell on the front tower of the Mercer Street building and blew a compressed air whistle at the rear. Sometimes when an alarm came in there would be only one man on duty. One might be sick, another out to dinner another on his 24 hours off. That is when the volunteers proved their worth.
And when a man reached the fire he would hook up the hose, laying 5 or 500 feet by himself. He would run up and attach the nozzle (making sure the water wasn't turned on) dash back to the fire hydrant, turn on the water, rush back to the hose, drag it into the building, all of this only after he located the source of the fire and made sure that no one was inside!
A few old time residents may recall some of the more spectacular fires in town, such as the Armory in 1899, the Second Reformed Church (whose steeple sent embers and flames soaring when it crashed to the ground) in 1906, or the State Street School in 1910 on an extremely cold night with heavy snow on the ground. The days of hand-drawn hook and ladder and volunteers energetically throwing water from leather buckets seem strange when one visits our Headquarters today in City Hall Complex.
In 1876, Fire Chief George Hal stead had recommended the organization of a Fire Patrol. The men of the patrol were to preserve order during the July 4th Parade and exhibition of fireworks, do salvage work at fires and keep order. When the new Fire Headquarters was built at 217 State Street in 1921, the Patrol became a salvage company, but in 1974 the Fire Patrol was reestablished and its task now is to strengthen ties between Fire Prevention and Fire Suppression.
Fire Fighters in cars patrol the City between 8:30 A.M. and 12:00 Midnight checking areas where a fire might go unnoticed.
The department also provides ambulance service to the City from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. The first formal training program for Hackensack firemen was begun in 1936. An officer of the Department was sent to the New York Fire School and upon his graduation was given supervision of the training program. Thirty hours of outdoor training evolutions were conducted in the Spring and Fall each year. Three hours per week were devoted to classroom study during the winter months.
To keep up with the growing fire-fighting problems arising as a result of the new synthetic products, high-rise buildings and changes in fire fighting techniques, the Fire Department in 1974 instituted a sophisticated training program developed by Oklahoma State University.
As modern apparatus and additional personnel were added to the Department Headquarters gradually became overcrowded. When the City planned a Municipal Complex, a new Fire Headquarters was included in the plans as a top priority which consists of 38,000 square feet of floor space, approximately four times larger than the old Headquarters.
When the present Fire Chief, Charles H. Jones, joined the Department after World War II in 1945, he became the 38th member. Today the roster numbers 109 Officers and Fire Fighters and five civilian members.
Our Johnson Free Public Library In "Our Town" it's only proper to describe some of the struggles which preceded our current fine library system. The first Hackensack Library Association was formed in 1833 with the following trustees: Abraham Westervelt, Abram Hopper, Samual H. Berry, Rowland Hill, Richard W.
Stevenson, Henry H. Banta and Richard Danah. "This association was not of long duration, but another organization adopting the same name was formed January 3, 1859, and certificates of stock were issued...but the association did not have a successful existence".
A third association was formed with R.W. Farr, W.L. Comes, David Terhune, James Quackenbush, W.S. Banta and J.N. Gamewell as trustees. This was in 1871 and the library was on the second floor of the Wilson building, where it remained until the present library building on Main Street was opened in 1901.
The Honorable William Johnson purchased the plot, built a two story building and gave a $5,000 donation for books. In 1916 he made a further contribution of $30,000 for an addition to the building, None of this was accomplished without difficulties, however, as is related in the following excerpts from an article by Dr. Anna Williams printed in the Bergen Evening Record on October 1, 1951. After the men attempted to start a library in the old Washington Institute Building, many years passed and then a group of Hackensack girls established "The Hackensack Library Association" (H.L.A.), reopened the library and made a "great success of it". As Dr.
Anna Williams noted:
"This second opening was started by myself when, soon after my return from college, I passed the old building, closed tight, and with the sign "Hackensack Library" on it. I obtained the key from David Terhune, and found the big room stacked with dusty books and magazines. I immediately got in touch with Sallie McRae and we made up a list of girls we thought might be suitable ones to help us. Eighteen girls consented to assist us.
'Eddie' Williams (Mrs. Broughton) was chosen President, I was made Treasurer, and Willie Angle and Emilie Williams were appointed to draw up the constitution. We divided the town into sections for canvassing to obtain subscriptions and money, and we planned to hold several entertainments to -help the fund. The whole town soon seemed very interested and we received much help and encouragement. People flocked to our unique affairs.
"...I was assigned to approach for help - David Terhune, Garret Ackerson, Frederick Jacobson and Judge Banta who all gave generously with both money and good advice. Of course, there were many others......Sallie McRae reported great help from Mr. William Johnson.